Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum

Size Matters


The Challenge:
Ranging in size from four to fifty feet, the nine scale models we created for the Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum required several different approaches when it came to construction. Of course, each needed to be historically accurate representations of the real thing, but designed to fall within the distinct parameters of how they were to function within the exhibit.

The Solution:
Some of the smaller models were made of cast fiberglass and suspended above the floor of the museum by high strength cables. Others, because of their large size, are actual inflatables that remain taut via continuously running fans positioned inside. For the show-stopping fifty-foot long Graft Zeppelin, we used a series of laser cut, half inch thick plywood ribs that are glued and stapled together within their own custom-built steel frame cage. We then stretched the many, many yards of Dacron fabric skin over the frame work and added the trademark silver finish.

Experience counts:
Here’s something you don’t think about. How do you get a fifty foot long model of a Graf Zeppelin from Seattle to New Mexico at the height of summer without damaging it? Well, first of all, you build the steel frame that it’s suspended from exactly two inches smaller than the inside of the semi-truck trailer it’s going to be shipped in. Then you carefully time your trucks delivery schedule to avoid turning the trailer into a giant two hundred degree oven. As long as you take this kind of thing into consideration before you ship, it’s really not a problem. If you don’t….Big Problem. Experience counts.


Client: DCSW Architects
Design: Dillon Works!
Venue: Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum, Albuquerque, NM